FEMA's Reverse Learning Curve


Today's New York Times reports:

Federal officials issued unexpectedly lenient guidelines on Wednesday for rebuilding the flood-damaged homes of New Orleans, potentially allowing tens of thousands of homeowners to return to their neighborhoods at costs far less than they had feared.

How very lenient of them! Property owners were waiting for a rule on how many feet above ground they had to build to qualify for federal flood insurance. The magic number is three, and why not? All good things come in it. Alas, good things do not typically come from FEMA. A former director of the federal flood insurance program tells The Times:

"What's that three feet going to do? Instead of coming up with real science, they're making it up. Which means that people are going to be at risk, they're going to die again, and taxpayers are subsidizing unwise construction with very cheap insurance."